Intensity of final energy consumption

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-123-en
Also known as: ENER 021
Created 18 Dec 2018 Published 30 Jan 2019 Last modified 30 Jan 2019
18 min read
Topics: ,
The EU's final energy intensity decreased by 17.5 % between 2005 and 2016, at a rate of 1.7 % per year. Final energy consumption decreased at a rate of 0.7 % a year while gross domestic product grew by 1.1 % annually over the same period. This indicates a decoupling of final energy consumption from economic growth in the EU. During that period, final energy intensity decreased most in the industry sector (2.3 % per year), followed by the services or tertiary sector (1.6 % per year), the agriculture sector (1.7 % per year), the transport sector (1.1 % per year) and the households sector (1.0 % per year). Since 1990, total final energy intensity has decreased by 33.4 %, at a rate of 1.5 % per year, in the EU. The final energy intensity trend varied among non-EU European Environment Agency countries. Between 2005 and 2016, total final energy intensity decreased by 11.8 % in Norway and by 10.3 % in Turkey, and increased by 25.7 % in Iceland. The large increase in Iceland was mainly due to the recent growth in relatively energy inefficient geothermal energy sources.

Key messages

  • The EU's final energy intensity decreased by 17.5 % between 2005 and 2016, at a rate of 1.7 % per year. Final energy consumption decreased at a rate of 0.7 % a year while gross domestic product grew by 1.1 % annually over the same period. This indicates a decoupling of final energy consumption from economic growth in the EU. During that period, final energy intensity decreased most in the industry sector (2.3 % per year), followed by the services or tertiary sector (1.6 % per year), the agriculture sector (1.7 % per year), the transport sector (1.1 % per year) and the households sector (1.0 % per year).
  • Since 1990, total final energy intensity has decreased by 33.4 %, at a rate of 1.5 % per year, in the EU.
  • The final energy intensity trend varied among non-EU European Environment Agency countries. Between 2005 and 2016, total final energy intensity decreased by 11.8 % in Norway and by 10.3 % in Turkey, and increased by 25.7 % in Iceland. The large increase in Iceland was mainly due to the recent growth in relatively energy inefficient geothermal energy sources.

Has there been a decoupling of economic growth from final energy consumption in Europe?

Total final energy intensity, 2005-2016

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Total final energy intensity, and final energy intensity by sector

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Between 2005 and 2016, final energy intensity decreased in the EU by 17.5 %, at an annual average rate of 1.7 %. Final energy consumption decreased by 0.7 % per year, while gross domestic product (GDP), at 2010 prices, grew by 1.1 % per year over the same period. Improvements in total final energy intensity were the result of both structural changes in the economy, such as a shift from industry towards services, and a shift towards processes that are less energy intensive and energy efficiency improvements in the industry sector (see ENER 016). In addition, the economic crisis of 2008 played an important role in decreasing final energy consumption and increasing energy efficiency. Since 1990, total final energy intensity has decreased by 33.4 %, at a rate of 1.5 % per year, in the EU.

Sectoral trends

Between 2005 and 2016:

  • Final energy intensity decreased in the industry sector by 2.3 % per year and in the agriculture sector by 1.7 % per year. In addition to an increase in economic productivity, the decrease in energy intensity in the industry sector was mainly due to energy efficiency improvements (see also the trend in the Odyssee energy efficiency index (ODEX), as shown in ENER 037) and, to a lesser extent, a shift towards industries that are less energy intensive. In addition, industries in the EU are combining more and more manufacturing products with the delivery of related services. This trend has led to lower energy intensities in industry, since gross value added increases without greater energy consumption. For agriculture, the main drivers of lower energy intensity are energy efficiency improvements and an increase in economic productivity.
  • Final energy intensities decreased in the transport sector by 1.1 % per year and in the services or tertiary sector by 1.6 % per year. Changes in energy intensity in the services or tertiary sector were the result of counterbalancing drivers: an increase in economic productivity and in energy efficiency on the one hand, and an increase in comfort (in particular with the diffusion of air conditioning) and in the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in offices on the other. The underlying factors that explain the energy efficiency improvements include an increase in insulation and the diffusion of efficient equipment for heating, air conditioning and lighting. The decrease in energy intensity in transport is down to different factors, including an increase in economic productivity and vehicles that are more energy efficient, driven by European policies aimed at reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the transport sector (EEA, 2016). On the other hand, these benefits have been partially offset by modal shifts to modes of transport that are more energy intensive (increases in air traffic, in the use of cars, instead of public transport, and in the use of trucks, instead of rail or inland waterways, for goods transportation).
  • Final energy intensity in the households sector decreased by 1.0 % per year in the EU. This was influenced by several factors, which have opposing effects on energy consumption, such as larger dwellings, increased comfort levels and greater ownership of electrical appliances (which all lead to an increase in energy consumption), and improvements in the efficiency of electrical and heating appliances and of buildings’ envelopes (which decrease energy consumption) (see ENER 037). Final energy intensity in the households sector is also closely linked with climatic conditions and population growth, as over 60 % of the energy in this sector is used for space heating. The data here are not corrected for climatic conditions. For details on energy efficiency improvements in the households sector, please also see ENER 037.

National trends

Between 2005 and 2016:

  • Final energy intensity decreased by more than 4 % per year in Ireland, Luxembourg, Romania and Slovakia. These relatively large reductions in final energy intensities in these countries were partly due to economic recovery after the economic crisis in combination with an overall reduction in final energy consumption. There are various reasons for the reduction in final energy consumption: the general shift from industry towards a more service-based economy, a shift within industry to activities and production methods that are less energy intensive, the closure of inefficient units, and an increase in the use of techniques and appliances that are more energy efficient.
  • Final energy intensity increased in Iceland by 25.7 % (2.1 % per year). In Iceland, geothermal energy sources have been put into use for heat generation in the households sector and for the production of electricity, which is mainly used in industry (NEA, 2014). As a consequence, the final energy intensity for the households sector in Iceland increased by 25.3 %, as geothermal energy sources are much less efficient than conventional sources. In Turkey, total final energy intensity decreased strongly, especially in the industry and agriculture sectors. The final energy intensity in Turkey decreased by 10.3 % (1.0 % per year), and final energy consumption grew at a rate of 3.9 % per year and GDP at 5.0 % per year. In Norway, total final energy intensity decreased by 11.8 % (1.1 % per year).

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

This indicator measures final energy consumption, which covers energy supplied to the final consumer for all energy uses. It is calculated as the sum of the final energy consumption of all end-use sectors. These sectors are disaggregated to cover the industry, transport, households, services and agriculture sectors.

Total final energy intensity is defined as total final energy consumption (consumption of transformed energy, i.e. electricity, publicly supplied heat, refined oil products, coke, etc., and the direct use of primary fuels such as gas or renewables, e.g. solar heat or biomass) divided by GDP at 2010 prices. For a comparison of GDP and final energy intensity in a year between countries, the GDP figures can be taken at purchasing power parity (PPP) to eliminate the differences in price levels, allowing meaningful volume comparisons of GDP figures between countries.

  • Households energy intensity is defined as final households energy consumption divided by population.
  • Transport energy intensity is defined as final transport energy consumption divided by GDP at 2010 prices in billions of euros.
  • Industry energy intensity is defined as final industry energy consumption divided by industry gross value added (GVA) at constant 2005 prices. This excludes final energy consumption and GVA from construction.
  • Services energy intensity is defined as final services energy consumption divided by services GVA at constant 2005 prices. The value added of services is the sum of the following seven values added:
    • wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food service activities;
    • information and communication activities;
    • financial and insurance activities;
    • real estate activities;
    • professional, scientific and technical activities; administrative and support service activities;
    • public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities;
    • arts, entertainment and recreation; other service activities; activities of household and extra-territorial organisations and bodies.
  • Agriculture and fisheries energy intensity is defined as final agriculture and fisheries energy consumption divided by agriculture, forestry and fishing GVA at constant 2005 prices.

Units

Final energy consumption is measured in 1 000 tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe) and GDP is measured in millions of euros. Energy intensity is measured in tonnes of oil equivalent per million euros (GDP or GVA), except in the case of households energy intensity, which is measured in tonnes of oil equivalent per 1 000 of population.


Policy context and targets

Context description

    Environmental context

    On 25 February 2015, the Communication on the Energy Union Strategy was adopted. The Energy Union Strategy has five mutually reinforcing and closely interrelated dimensions designed to bring greater energy security, sustainability and competitiveness to the EU:

    • energy security, solidarity and trust;
    • a fully integrated European energy market;
    • energy efficiency contributing to moderation of demand;
    • decarbonising the economy; and
    • research, innovation and competitiveness.

    This indicator shows the extent to which energy consumption in various sectors (households, services, agriculture, industry and transport) is being decoupled from economic growth, thus underpinning (but not exhaustively addressing) assessments of progress towards energy efficiency. Relative decoupling occurs when energy consumption grows, but more slowly than the underlying driver. Absolute decoupling occurs when energy consumption is stable or falls while the driver grows.

    A shift towards absolute decoupling would indicate that pressures on the environment from energy production and consumption are decreasing (because of avoided energy supply) but the magnitude of the impact depends both on the total amount of avoided energy consumption and on the implications for the energy mix (in other words, which fuels have been used less because of the reduction in final energy consumption).

    Policy context

    • On 30 November 2016, the European Commission presented a new package of measures with the goal of providing the stable legislative framework needed to facilitate the clean energy transition — and thereby taking a significant step towards the creation of the Energy Union. Aimed at enabling the EU to deliver on its Paris Agreement commitments, the 'Clean Energy for All Europeans' proposals are intended to help the EU energy sector become more stable, more competitive and more sustainable, and fit for the 21st century. More information can be found online:
      https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/news/commission-proposes-new-rules-consumer-centred-clean-energy-transition
    • On 25 February 2015, the European Commission adopted a Communication on 'A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy'. On 24 November 2017, the Commission published the 'Third Report on the State of the Energy Union':
      https://ec.europa.eu/commission/priorities/energy-union-and-climate_en
    • On 24 October 2014, the European Council endorsed a binding EU target of a minimum 40 % reduction in domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared with 1990 (SN 79/14). This involves, among other things, an indicative EU level target of at least a 27 % improvement in energy efficiency by 2030 compared with projections of future energy consumption based on current criteria. This will be reviewed by 2020, bearing in mind an EU level of 30 %. The Commission will propose priority sectors in which significant energy-efficiency gains can be reaped, and ways to address them at EU level, with the EU and Member States focusing their regulatory and financial efforts on these sectors. More information can be found online:
      http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/climate-change/2030-climate-and-energy-framework/#
      https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/strategies/2030_en
    • Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council 'Energy efficiency and its contribution to energy security and the 2030 framework for climate and energy policy' (COM(2014) 520 final).
    • The current EU energy efficiency framework applies until 2020. An indicative target of 20 % energy savings by 2020 has been established as the headline target for energy efficiency. EU Member States have set non-binding national energy efficiency targets. These targets are supported by:
      • the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED);
      • the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD);
      • product regulations laying down minimum energy performance standards and putting energy performance information on labels;
      • CO2 performance standards for cars and vans;
      • increased financing through EU structural and investment (ESI) funds, Horizon 2020 and dedicated facilities such as ELENA9 and the European Energy Efficiency Fund;
      • the roll-out of smart meters following the Internal Electricity Market Directive;
      • the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS);
      • Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC; 
      • Council Directive 2013/12/EU of 13 May 2013 adapting Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on energy efficiency, by reason of the accession of the Republic of Croatia;
      • Commission Implementing Decision of 22 May 2013 (notified under document C(2013) 2882; 2013/242/EU), establishing a template for National Energy Efficiency Action Plans under Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council;
      • Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council 'Implementing the Energy Efficiency Directive — Commission Guidance' (COM(2013) 762);
      • Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings;
      • Directive 2010/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the indication by labelling and standard product information on the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products;
      • Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products (and its implementing measures);
      • Directive 2009/72/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity and repealing Directive 2003/54/EC;
      • Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the Community’s integrated approach to reducing CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles;
      • Directive 2009/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to improve and extend the greenhouse gas emissions allowance trading scheme of the Community;
      • Decision No 1359/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 amending Directive 2003/87/EC clarifying provisions on the timing of auctions of greenhouse gas allowances.
      References

     

    Targets

    Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency establishes a common framework of measures for the promotion of energy efficiency within the EU in order to achieve the headline target of a 20 % reduction in gross inland energy consumption by 2020. Member States are requested to set indicative targets. It is up to the individual Member States to decide whether they base their targets on gross inland consumption, final energy consumption, primary or final energy savings, or energy intensity.

    At an EU summit in October 2014, EU countries agreed on a new energy efficiency target of 27 % or greater by 2030. The European Commission had proposed 30 % in its Communication on energy efficiency of 23 July 2014.

    Related policy documents

    Methodology

    Methodology for indicator calculation

    Technical information

    1. Data source:
      Total final energy consumption and final energy consumption by sector, GDP and GVA: Eurostat historical data (http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/).
    2. GDP and GDP growth rate: AMECO database provided by the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN) (http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/external/gdp-growth-rates-used-in).
    3. Geographical coverage: the EEA had 33 member countries at the time of writing this indicator. These are the 28 EU Member States and Turkey, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Liechtenstein and Switzerland are not covered in this indicator because of a lack of data for recent years.
    4. Methodology and frequency of data collection:
      Data are collected annually.
      Eurostat definitions and concepts for energy statistics are available online (http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/energy/methodology/annual).

    Methodology of data manipulation:
    Coding (used in the Eurostat database) and specific components of indicators:

    • Total final energy intensity: final energy consumption (nrg_100a B_101700) divided by GDP, obtained from AMECO data sheets (GDP at 2010 prices in billions of euros and at current prices in billions of euros purchasing power standard (PPS)).
    • Households energy intensity: final energy consumption households (nrg_100a B_102010) divided by demo_pjan population by sex and age on 1 January of each year.
    • Transport energy intensity: final energy consumption transport (nrg_100a B_101900) divided by GDP, obtained from AMECO data sheets (GDP at 2010 prices in billions of euros).
    • Industry energy intensity: final energy consumption industry (nrg_100a B_101800) divided by the GVA (B1G) for industry, obtained from Eurostat data set (nama_10_a64 B-E; national accounts aggregates by industry (up to NACE A*64))
      • Services energy intensity: final energy consumption services and others (nrg_100a B_102035 + B_102040) divided by the GVA for services: wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food service activities + information and communication + financial and insurance activities + real estate activities + professional, scientific and technical activities; administrative and support service activities + public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities + arts, entertainment and recreation; other service activities; activities of household and extra-territorial organisations and bodies (nama_10_a64 G - I + J + K + L + M_N + O - Q + R - U: national accounts aggregates by industry (up to NACE A*64) GVA).
      • Agriculture energy intensity: final energy consumption agriculture and fisheries (nrg_100a B_102030 + B_102020) divided by the GVA for agriculture, forestry and fishing (nama_10_a64 A; national accounts aggregates by industry (up to NACE A*64) GVA).

    GVA data for the industry, agriculture, households, transport and services sectors are not available in the Eurostat data set for all countries between 1990 and 2016. The GDP for the EU-28 is the sum of all countries' GDPs. Final energy consumption data for the agriculture and fisheries sector are not available for Germany.

    Average annual rate of growth calculated using: [(last year/base year) ^ (1/number of years) - 1]*100.

      Methodology for gap filling

      No methodology for gap filling has been specified. Probably this info has been added together with indicator calculation.

      Methodology references

      No methodology references available.

      Uncertainties

      Methodology uncertainty

      Reliability, accuracy, robustness and uncertainty (at data level)

      Indicator uncertainty (historic data).

      The sectoral breakdown of final energy consumption includes the industry, transport, households, and services, agriculture, fisheries and other sectors. To be consistent with projected data, the indicator aggregates agriculture, fisheries and other sectors together with the services sector. The inclusion of agriculture and fisheries together with the services sector is, however, questionable given their divergent trends.

      Because the main focus of the indicator is on trends, energy intensity is presented as an index. It should be noted that the final energy intensities between sectors, and also the total final energy intensity, are not directly comparable, because, as described above, the definitions of energy intensity within each sector are not identical. The indicator serves to highlight the evolution of energy intensity within each sector. 

      Overall scoring — historic data (1 = no major problems, 3 = major reservations):

      • Relevance: 1
      • Accuracy: 2
      • Comparability over time: 2
      • Comparability over space: 2

      Data sets uncertainty

      Methodology uncertainty: reliability, accuracy, robustness and uncertainty (at data level)

      The share of energy consumption for a particular fuel could decrease even if the actual amount of energy used from that fuel increased, as the development of the share for a particular fuel depends on the change in its consumption relative to the total consumption of energy.

      From an environmental point of view, however, the relative contribution of each fuel has to be considered in the wider context. Absolute (as opposed to relative) volumes of energy consumption for each fuel are the key to understanding the environmental pressures. These depend on the total amount of energy consumption as well as on the fuel mix used and the extent to which pollution abatement technologies are used.

      Gross inland energy consumption may not accurately represent the energy needs of a country in terms of final energy demand. Fuel switching may, in some cases, have a significant effect on changing gross inland energy consumption even though there is no change in final energy demand. 

      Data set uncertainty

      Strength and weaknesses (at data level)

      Data have traditionally been compiled by Eurostat through the annual joint questionnaires of Eurostat and the International Energy Agency, following a well-established and harmonised methodology. Methodological information on the annual joint questionnaires and data compilation can be found on Eurostat's web page for metadata on energy statistics (http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/energy/methodology/annual).

      Rationale uncertainty

      No uncertainty has been specified

      Data sources

      Metadata

      Topics:

      information.png Tags:
      , , ,
      DPSIR: Driving force
      Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
      Indicator codes
      • ENER 021
      Temporal coverage:

      Dates

      Frequency of updates

      Updates are scheduled once per year

      EEA Contact Info

      Stephanie Schilling
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